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Lang; Yogi: No Decoder

No Decoder is described as "the final mosaic piece for RPWL's unmistakable sound", due to the fact that singer Yogi Lang is the last of the three main-men from the band to release his solo work. Guitarist Kalle Wallner revealed a more metal flavoured side in his Blind Ego project, while (recently departed from RPWL) bassist Chris Postl went down a more overtly progressive path with Parzival'e Eye. So if that is what his band mates brought to the day job, then what does that leave for Yogi to contribute? Well on the whole, the answer is a dreamy mix that is extremely easy on the ear, gently progressive and (as RPWL have been accused of over the years) is heavily influenced by latter day Pink Floyd. Actually the end results aren't really all that far removed from RPWL.

I'm not sure that Yogi would be pleased to read those last sentences, however I don't mention Floyd disparagingly here, as when that is the road that No Decoder takes, it does it very well indeed and is hugely enjoyable for doing so. There is more to the mix though, with album opener "Can't Reach You" and "Sacrifice" also adding keyboard atmospheres that remind of Hogarth era Marillion and the biting acoustic attack of The Pineapple Thief and these are themes that recur throughout the album. Lang himself has a very easy going vocal style that sucks you into the songs and while his tones are sweet and beautiful, his lyrics are insightful and thoughtful in an unobtrusive way. The lyrical highlight being the expertly paced "Our World Has Changed", which describes how relationships can alter and change as the years pass, until before you even notice, they come to an end. As the partnership breaks down, so the music builds a contrast that is not simple to pull off, but one that is handled with skill and ease.

The title track is Floyd through and through, with a languid keyboards carrying us into a Gilmour-esque guitar line. In truth it is startlingly like something you've heard before, but that doesn't stop it from being quite beautiful and I suppose if you are going to show your influences so blatantly, then you might as well go the whole hog and do it wonderfully well. "Alison", while less Floydian, is another dreamy track, that benefits from having French lyrics and a nice accordion outro that is the right side of cheesy and with Yogi sharing the vocals with Dominique Leonetti, the change of focus is welcome. A darker tone is taken with "A Million Miles Away", which leads us back into Floyd territory, but this time we are in the Roger Waters era, spoken word sections add a solemnity to the music, with Yogi's vocal on the song being perfectly pitched between the bleak music and an attempt to give release from the gloom.

What is rather impressive on No Decoder, is that the pace remains remarkably steady throughout its first nine songs, but due to the different musical hues, not in a way that has you yearning for something startling to happen. That said when it does in the shape of "Sensvalue", the sharp, galloping riff makes you snap up in your seat. In real terms it is still considered and restrained, but with what has come before, it feels almost on the verge of pandemonium. For the five minutes of this instrumental, the drums clatter, the keys are danced on and the guitar is thrashed, but somehow it is all done in way that still fits in perfectly with its album mates. "A Better Place For Me" closes the disc in the same way the majority of it has meandered by in, with acoustic guitars and voice building into a more grandiose keyboard environment and it is this setting that really shows Yogi Lang at his best.

No Decoder is an album that proudly wears its influences on its sleeve and isn't afraid to come over as an extension of, rather than a relief from RPWL. However even taking both those things into account, it is impossible not to be seduced by this excellent collection of songs that continue to convince you to jump on as they float by.

Track Listing
1. Can't Reach You
2. Sacrifice
3. Our World Has Changed
4. Sail Away
5. Our Modern World
6. No Decoder
7. Alison
8. A Million Miles Away
9. Say Goodbye
10. Sensvalue
11. A Better Place For Me

Added: April 12th 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Official Yogi Lang Site
Hits: 4158
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Lang; Yogi: No Decoder
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-04-12 15:05:53
My Score:

Sooner or later, somebody in RPWL had to make a solo album that sounded like, well, RPWL. Enter vocalist Yogi Lang, who follows in the footsteps of bandmates Kalle Wallner (guitars) and Chris Postl (bass) by releasing a highly anticipated solo album. But unlike the albums by those other two RPWL-ers, albums that provided detours from RPWL's classic prog-rock sound, No Decoder lives up to its title and requires very little decoding to figure out what Lang's doing here. The influences from Pink Floyd Lang's voice has that slightly stuffed-up, David Gilmour aura Porcupine Tree, Marillion and even the Alan Parsons Project can be heard loud and clear on these 11 songs.

Although the RPWL moniker comes from the first initials of each original member's surname (Phil Paul Rissettio, Postl, Wallner and Lang), I have referred to the acronym as Real Prog Without Limitations. Lang, on the other hand, limits himself here to what he knows best and he does it so well. But just when you think he's ready to return to RPWL and record that band's next album, the instrumental "Sensvalue" shakes things up with some lively guitars and earth-rumbling effects, proving Lang is just as capable of surprising listeners as was Wallner with his metal project Blind Ego and Postl with his adventurous Parzivals Eye.

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